Sweet Autumn Clematis
There is a volunteer vine in my yard which began blooming about a week ago. It has small fragrant white flowers and it produces a prolific vine. The leaves are somewhat heart shaped, with a little silver color along the veins. I thought it must be a weed until it started blooming. What is it and is it desirable? If not, what should I use to kill it?
The plant in question is the sweet autumn clematis, Clematis maximowicziana. It is fairly common throughout the state and is planted for its fall flowers and sweet scent. It can be somewhat invasive, so learn to recognize the seedlings in the spring, and contain it where it you want it. It is very easy to maintain, seeming to thrive on neglect. It will bloom well in sun or partial shade, and has no pests that I know of. It makes a beautiful display in late summer through early fall, but it can get a little too happy!
My sweet autumn clematis grows on my patio fence and is a rapid grower as you know. This is its third year and it is not looking so good this year; lots of dead undergrowth showing. It's been a real showstopper two previous years but this year not so much. I think it needs help and I am having a hard time finding out how to care for it. The fence is 6-7 feet high and the vine has grown to the top and along the top at a corner. Everything I can find gives different formulas for when and how much to cut back, you are the final arbiter.
Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is a vigorous vine which blooms on the current season growth. Prune it as hard as you want to in late February through mid March. If yours has gotten woodier, it needs a severe haircut—removing at least half. It usually thrives on neglect and seems to bloom unimpeded in full sun to partial shade. It has lovely, fragrant white flowers in late summer, but freely reseeds itself and roots where it is allowed to ramble, so contain it.